Decompression sickness occurs when pressure is rapidly decreasing around the body. This is also known as The Bends and Caisson Disease. Decompression sickness often affects divers, miners or people who are put in settings where the pressure decreases.
Nitrogen bubbles forming in the body cause decompression sickness. As people dive deeper into the water, our bodies absorb nitrogen into our body tissues, which isn’t harmful to the body because that helps the body tissues become equal to the surrounding pressure. When the build up of the pressure needs to be released is where it may become harmful to the body. In order for a diver to release nitrogen in a safe manner is to slowly float to the top of the water. Floating slowly to the top of the water allows the nitrogen to slowly leave the body tissues to become harmless bubbles that will eventually become gas. This process is called “off-gassing”. If the diver ascends to the top too quickly and the nitrogen that leaves the body tissues too fast it becomes bubbles in the body, which causes Decompression Sickness.
There are two different types of Decompression Sickness. Type I is the least serious and has symptoms that only includes pain in the body. Some different forms Type I Decompression Sickness include Cutaneous Decompression Sickness and Joint and Limb Pain Decompression Sickness. Type II is the most serious and can be life threatening. The main reason that causes Type II to become life threatening is because its main effect is on the nervous system. Some forms of Type II Decompression Sickness are Neurological Decompression Sickness, Pulmonary Decompression Sickness and Cerebral Decompression Sickness. Also, if nitrogen bubbles form in the ear, Cochlea’s Perilymph can occur which may cause hearing loss, dizziness, ringing of the ear and vertigo.
Most common symptoms of Decompression Sickness include:
· Extreme Fatigue
· Red Rash on Skin
· Respiratory Problems
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can help with Decompression Sickness because it will help immediately reduce bubble volume while increasing the diffusion of gas from the bubble into the surrounding tissue. Also, the increased pressure from the chamber reduces the size of the nitrogen bubbles and then bubbles are dissolved into the bloodstream.